Living in the outer suburbs (or the 6th borough) of a huge metropolitan city puts me in an interesting position. Growing up travelling literally between NJ & NYC has greatly shaped my identity, habits, and how I see life. For many from Jersey, there is this awkward tension/desire to affiliate yourself with NYC instead of proudly being from NJ. For the most part, these people go to the city for cultural attractions, shopping, and the newest trend (cronuts, Smorgsborg, etc etc). In my case, it has been a bit different. Growing up for the past 11ish years, I have spent most of my weekends in the neighborhoods around my church in Chinatown. I have spent many bored afternoons walking the streets of Lower Manhattan, exploring the ins and outs of all the surrounding neighborhoods. A lot of my friends’ families have lived in their apartments and neighborhoods since their families immigrated here. I have my go-to places to eat/drink/shop … yet I am an outsider. But when I bring out-of-town friends to NYC, I can blab for hours about where we should go.
It is quite hilarious when friends will say, “What?! You’re not a New Yorker? I did NOT realize you live in New Jersey“. How do I do? Here are three ways you can also mesh yourself into the New Yorker identity!
- When lost, do not stop in the middle of the street to look at your smartphone. Remember to always screenshot your Google Maps directions before embarking on your NYC adventure.
- Actually, NEVER stop in the middle of the street to look at anything. New Yorkers are ruthless in walking around those who do that, but you never know when someone might decide to be extra rude and give you a hard shove.
- Spend time on side streets. Instead of walking down 42nd Street and Broadway, walk two avenues west or east and explore the outskirts of high-tourist destinations. You’ll be surprised to find some hidden gems.
It is an interesting paradox to be in. But for now I will relish the positives of a suburban home and nature while getting to work, play, and serve in an amazing city!
New Jersey. New York. Love ’em both.